Yesterday Governor Deal came out in opposition to expansion of Medicaid here in Georgia.
Expansion of Medicaid was a key part of the health care reform law recently passed into law. But the Supreme Court ruled states were not obligated to expand their programs and Governor Deal's refusal leaves some of our most vulnerable citizens in this state without health care coverage.
Bill Rencher, with the consumer watchdog group Georgia Watch, noted this morning what a bad deal this is for Georgia:
Not expanding Medicaid passes up an opportunity to cover a huge proportion of uninsured Georgians with the state only picking up a small percentage of the costs and the federal government pumping $33 billion into our economy. (A more budget-oriented commentary by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute can be found here.) Furthermore, expansion would not only improve the health of those currently without insurance, but it would lessen their chances of devastating financial hardship leading to foreclosure or bankruptcy due to high medical bills. Georgia currently has one of the highest bankruptcy rates in the nation, with health care the leading cause, so this is a critically important goal. The expansion also would benefit Georgia consumers who already have insurance and who indirectly support the uninsured through higher health care costs and insurance premiums. In fact, not expanding Medicaid will represent a double cost to the state's insured consumers: they will continue to pay higher costs to support care for the uninsured, and their federal tax dollars will go to pay for and strengthen Medicaid expansions in other states, such as California and Maryland.
Yesterday I sat down with Amanda Ptashkin, the Outreach and Advocacy Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, to get a more in-depth look at this issue
[interview to be embedded here shortly come back in a few minutes!]